Reflecting on the transience of all things, I put on my jacket. Seeing that, Mutt and Katt are waiting at the door; and we start off down the path into the woods. The doe with her twin fawns throw up their heads at the sound of our noisy approach. Seeing it is only us, they return to their browsing. We give them a wide berth and continue on into the woods, the damp leaves now making no sound.
Taking a path we rarely follow, we wander deeper and deeper until the path is barely visible then ends completely. Ducking and bending to avoid the undergrowth, we continue on. Mutt knows where we are going now; and bounds on ahead, yet when we reach the edge of the hidden clearing he waits, allowing me to enter first.
Slipping under the last low hanging cedar branch I straighten up. Before me is a circular clearing, surrounded and protected by thick cedar trees and wild roses. So far, I have only found this one unmarked path into this haven. Around the perimiter of the clearing are large lichen covered rocks, too regular in spacing not to have been placed there, too large to have been easily moved and set there. They always remind me of guardians. In the center is a ring of smaller stones. A firepit perhaps, or something else. I don't know. A few paces in from the guardians is another ring. These are weathered and smooth rocks that could have been used for sitting on or reclining against. Strangely, I have never counted them; but they too are too regularly spaced to be a natural formation. I wonder again about the origin of this place. How old it is. Who created it. What they used it for. But there are no answers from the rocks and trees. I only know that when I come here I find peace and sometimes dreams. Dreams that I only remember at odd times. Short, thick grass coveres the ground. Grass than never needs mowing; and in summer is covered in tiny white flowers. Now in winter the grass is brown and dry; but still warm to sit on. I settle down on the grass in front of my favorite stone and lean back. Mutt and Katt come to lay beside me. The outside world recedes farther and farther from my consciousness; and I close my eyes..........
Dec-16-2001 The moon is rising and the air is heavy with the scent of growing things. There are people all around me. Shadowy and indistinct, dressed in simple white garments with garlands of spring flowers around their necks and more entwined in their hair. From somewhere a flute like instrument can be heard, it's song joyous, compelling. The people are silent now, finding seats on the stones, looking expectantly at me. I look at the moon, gauging it's height, then nod to the unseen flute player. A new melody begins, aching, full of need. I let my green robe slide from my shoulders and to the ground as the music fills me, guides my feet in the dance that was old in my mother's, mother's, mother's time........
Dec-16-2001 As I dance time hangs suspended. My feet know the strange patterns, my arms and hands the gestures; but the words are strange, unfamiliar to me, yet the voice that is not mine sings them. Sweet and clear, like tinkling chimes the words issue forth as I weave in and out among the people, and around and around the fire. I can hear their hearts beating in time to the music as it rises to some climax I am not privy to yet for which they yearn deeply. I see the rapture on their faces, feel their need, see their hands raised with mine toward the brilliant silver moon that transforms us with it's radiance.......
Dec-17-2001 Katt's rough tongue licking my cheek brings me half awake. I open my eyes and look around, unsure where I am. Who I am. I try to reassure Katt; but I can't even keep my eyes open.......
Dec-19-2001 I open my eyes, suddenly awake; and wonder how long I have been dozing. I only meant to sit down for a few minutes. Standing up and stretching I wake Mutt and Katt also. I must have really needed a nap, I think as I start back toward the cabin. I feel wonderfully refreshed, full of energy, whatever had been troubling me gone like a weight lifted off my shoulders. Strange place this is, I think as I slip under the cedar branches and work my way back toward the path. As the path becomes more and more defined, I begin humming Christmas caroles, eager to return to my Christmas preparations.
Jan-17-2002 Letting Mutt back in, I shiver in the blast of cold air coming in the door. Leaden skies and a northwest wind all day have made even the cozy cabin feel chilly. I pile more wood on the fire and settle down on the rug close to it. Mutt and Katt come to lay beside me, perhaps sensing my uneasy mood. It has been with me all day, this feeling of waiting for something to happen. As I stare into the fire I loose track of time. My surroundings recede; and I am in the clearing, fire blazing high, sending embers and sweet smoke up in a tall pillar......
Jan-19-2002 I awake a little disoriented still on the floor in front of the embers of last nights fire. I stir up the embers and nurse the fire back into a blaze, wondering at how I could have failed to wake up and go to bed. There's new snow on the ground outside; and I think I'll take a walk again later. Mutt will enjoy the romp.
Jan-21-2002 Cold snow sliding down my back lets me know that I'm really awake as I slip under the last branches and into the clearing. I look around in astonishment. There is no snow anywhere; but it was almost above my boots outside. There is a feeling in the air that I can't quite put my finger on either; and uneasily I retrace my steps back through the ancient cedars and thorns. But when I get back to where I think the trail starts there are no footprints. I panic for a moment, wondering how I could have gotten lost; but Mutt seems unconcerned, starting back toward the cabin as if everything was normal. I look back after a few steps; and my mouth drops open. We're not leaving any tracks in the snow; and I suddenly realise I can't hear the snow crunching under foot either. Everything is unnaturally silent. I break into a run, frightened, until I realise I can hear sounds again and see the tracks we made in the snow on our way to the clearing. I stop and look back. A few yards behind me the tracks mill around then start back toward me. But I know I walked all the way into the clearing. I know it. But I couldn't have without leaving tracks in the snow. A little frightened, I hurry toward the cabin.
Jan-28-2002 Although the day has been unseasonably warm, there is still snow on the ground from the last snowfall; and I hurry through the dinner dishes so I can go outside and watch the moon rise. The sun has just set; and it will stay warm for a little while yet. As I step out onto the porch, I can see the white glow just above the ridge that heralds the rising of the full moon. Above me the stars are just starting to show in the ever darkening sky. I sit down on the still warm steps, unwilling to be under even the porch roof tonight; and look around the cabin clearing.
Black silhouettes separate themselves from the woods and begin to cross the clearing. I recognize the doe and her twin fawns, now almost as large as she is. Farther away, a large buck steps out of the trees, still wearing one antler. He stamps his foot, probably catching my scent, and fades back into the woods. I've seen his scrapes on my walks; but I've never seen him before. I hope that he too will become a regular visitor here. In the distance I can hear the coyotes yapping at something. Mutt is sprawled out on the porch; and I watch Katt stalking something I can't see in the deepening darkness. A part of me is appalled at the cruel way she plays with her prey before dispatching it; yet another part of me realizes that this is just her nature, a part of her that cannot be made to fit the sensibilities of civilized man. She is after all not a human being no matter how we try to ascribe our actions and feelings to her and her kind; and without her and the foxes and owls the clearing would be so overpopulated with mice that they would begin to die of starvation and invade the cabin.
Feb-22-2002 I awake instantly in the middle of the night. Unsure what woke me, I lay quietly listening. I hear and see nothing out of the ordinary; but can't go back to sleep. Finally I throw back the covers and get up to look out the window. The moon is nearly full and bright, almost casting shadows behind the cabin. Seeing nothing unusual there, I make my way to the window in the other wall; but see nothing unusual there either. I slip back into bed; but it is a long time before I fall asleep again.
Feb-28-2002 Chores all finished and all the critters settled down for the night, I am drawn to the window for one last look outside before going to bed. The snow from the last storm glitters in the bright moonlight. The shadows from the surrounding trees seem to sway hypnotically. Putting on my coat over the robe I wear against the chill, I step out onto the porch, closing the door softly behind me. It's not as cold as I expected. A warm breeze blows up from the southwest, bringing with it smells of growing things. Intoxicated with the scents, I step down off the porch; and walk out into the center of the clearing. Behind me the outline of the cabin melts into the treeline behind it. To my left, the path to the pond and beyond it into the woods is as clear as day. To my right, the road disappears into the woods to admit friends and neighbors into this little corner of the world. In front of me, beyond the circle of stones we build our bonfires in, the bare trees seem to sway to some ancient rhythm as the southwest wind passes through them.
Seeing that circle of stones, I feel the urge to light a fire. There is still wood stacked near the circle, so all I need is some kindling from the woodshed. Soon I have a fire going, smoke and embers floating upward in a thick column, barely disturbed by the wind.
Faintly I can hear a flute begin to play an ancient melody. I look around for the source of the music. At first I see no one; but then a shadowy form detaches itself from the deep shadows under the trees. Then another and another until a large group of people encircle me and the fire. Shadowy and indistinct, I know they can't be real, yet moment by moment they become more solid and distinct, arms linked, swaying to the beat of the drum that suddenly joins the flute. A silver thread reaches down from the moon and pricks my heart, vibrating to the music. My feet begin to move in an ancient pattern set by the drumbeat. From somewhere a voice begins to sing; and with surprise I realize that it is mine. I do not understand the words, yet I feel their meaning in my soul. A prayer for the end of winters cold and isolation and the coming of a new season of life and warmth. I dance until the moon is low on the horizon; and the east brightens with the rising of the sun. My feet at last becoming too leaden to move, my voice hoarse. I close my eyes for just a moment, and when I open them again, I am alone by the fire. It no longer blazes fiercely; and I turn and slowly walk back to the cabin, wondering how long I've stood there without even seeing the fire. I must be more tired than I realize I think as I close the cabin door and hang up my coat. Bed time for sure.
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